Luxembourg City – Selina Parr and Lara Tolman of the Amsterdam-based Noman Studio first exhibited their installation, If This Then That, for Dutch Invertuals during the 2015 Milan Design Week. For some time, Parr and Tolman had been hoping to take that project and create an applied version of it. It’s an opportunity that finally arose when the two designers were approached by Maddalena Oliva, a Luxembourg-based retail entrepreneur looking for a pop-up concept store to complement her permanent space.
Launched in 2018 and located near Luxembourg’s central station, Oliva’s concept store Manalena sells a selection of fashion, home and lifestyle goods. The pop-up space was built to expand that offering in a different retail setting; it’s one of the various shops in Cloche d’Or, a new shopping centre. Oliva had been inspired by Noman Studio’s work for Esprit and Opening Ceremony. ‘What she had in mind was a transparent and playful interior, and from there we pretty much got carte blanche,’ said Tolman. Her only request? No mannequins.
For the displays, the creatives wanted to make use of everyday, overlooked materials. The 2015 iteration of If This Then That is an assemblage made of glass plates precariously balanced at various angles by ropes and stones. Parr and Tolman colour-stained safety glass and powder-coated metal profiles and POM poles to create merchandising units that echo, yet reinvent, that original vision. The resulting Manalena spot, according to the pair, ‘is a balance between construction and display’ that dances against light purple floors and walls – almost, in their words, a spatial collage.
‘If This Then That is about an honest approach to material and construction, where all elements are put together in a loosely, like a collage,’ explained Parr. ‘So they really need each other. The work was created in this way to make the materials tangible and give it a certain suspense. You know that all the elements are grasping on to each other and if you take one part out, the whole thing will fall apart – a bit like the game Jenga.’